Cicaré Helicopters: The Ultra-Light Helicopters from Argentina

[header 3]Exclusive Interview with Fernando Cicaré, President [/header]

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Did Augusto Cicaré (Cicaré’s Designer) have any background or experience when he decided to build helicopters?

Augusto had no background at all. He was born in a very small village called Polvaredas. He was 4 or 5 years old when he saw on the cover of “Popular Mechanics” magazine a picture of a flying machine in the sky which was neither a plane nor a bird, so he asked his mother what that was.

She told him that it was called “helicopter” and that a man called Sikorsky was building it. At that moment he just knew that helicopters were what he wanted to build when he would grow up.

He went to school only for 6 years and he didn’t like it at all. So he started to learn how to work on the lathe. He learned how to use it always thinking about the helicopter he was going to build some day in the future. He was an autodidact; all he learned was by trial and error.

He has developed helicopters from 115 kg empty weight (the CH-4) to helicopters turbine powered as the CH-14 of 1400 KG MTOW. He built himself his first helicopter, even the engine!

Why did your company decide to develop ultra-light helicopters? Was it because there were not a lot of them in the market?

As the years went by, he developed other helicopters and in 1980 he built an ultra-light helicopter that weighed 115 kg (CH-4). To reach this weight he had to build the engine also. With this helicopter, he won an award from the Argentinean EAA and this helicopter was published in many international publications. Seeing the performance of this helicopter he built another one introducing the 582 rotax engine which was presented in Osh Kosh in 1990. In 1992 an Italian company started producing one of these models.

Augusto was one of the precursors of ultra-light helicopters and many companies have based their developments on helicopters developed by our company. Our company is currently dedicated to the manufacture of ultra-light helicopters because it is a market of great potential and it is strongly developing around the world.

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Flight simulator

You have over 14 models of helicopters, in addition to the Helicopter Flight Simulator Cicaré SVH-3. How many of those helicopters have been sold worldwide last year?

We have developed 14 models of helicopters but we are currently producing two of them: the CH-7 and CH-12 along with a new version of the Flight Simulator called SVH-4 which has a rotax 912 engines and automatic rpm control.

Last year we sold 15 models of the CH-7 and 4 Flight Simulators. We started producing the CH-12 this year.

How long did it take to build the first CH-1? Did Augusto build it himself? Did he run into any problems?

The CH-1 was a two stages project. The first stage was with a two strokes, two opposite cylinders engine of around 30 hp. With this engine, Augusto made all the control and rotor system tests.

The prototype and the engine were built by him, helped by his brother and some neighbors. It took him 3 years. He had many problems during the process. There were some problems that he didn’t know whether the helicopter itself had issues, or if the problem was because he didn’t know how to fly it! The main problem he had was that when he tried to fly it, there was not enough power. Then he started the second stage. He had to build a more powerful engine, so he designed a four stroke and four opposite cylinders of around 60 hp. It took him two more years until he could finally do his first solo.

How did Augusto’s family react when he told them that he would build a helicopter and then fly it?

When Augusto asked his mum about that picture on “Popular Mechanics” and he told her that he wanted to build one of his own, she told him: “if this man could do it, why couldn’t you? You will have to study hard and learn to use the lathe”.

However, his father wasn’t so sure about that and when he started making the first parts, he was hiding at night so no one, except for his mum, knew what he was doing. She used to bring him food while he was working at night.

The CH-11 &the CH-14 are currently still in the development stage. When do you think they will be on the market?

Yes, the CH-11 and CH-14 are under development but right now we are working on other projects of higher priority. We estimate that the CH-11 will be on the market in two years and the CH-14 is in stand by for the moment.

The CH-14 was presented by the Argentine Army in 2007. Are they using it?

The CH-14 prototype was presented by the army in 2007 but as the financial support from the army was interrupted the project had to be stopped.

Is the company working on any new project?

Yes, we are working on a side by side, two seated ultra-light helicopter.

 

To know more: www.cicare.com.ar 

Rotornation would like to thank the Cicaré family for their precious time

 

 

 

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